Downsizing to begin at hospitals for the developmentally disabled

Admissions will be halted at KNI and restricted at Parsons

0 | SRS, Legislature, Hospitals

— Admissions to Kansas Neurological Institute will be halted this summer and restricted at Parsons State Hospital, the state's top welfare agency official said today.

Don Jordan, secretary of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, announced those decisions Monday before the House Social Services Budget Committee.

Last year, the state’s two hospitals for people with developmental disabilities recorded 20 admissions – two at KNI; 18 at Parsons.

Admissions to Parsons will be restricted – but not closed – because the facility specializes in caring for people with severe behavior disorders, Jordan said.

KNI specializes in care for the medically fragile.

Last month, Gov. Mark Parkinson issued an executive order directing SRS to figure out which of the hospitals’ residents could be safely moved to community settings and begin downsizing the two facilities with the eventual goal of closing one of them.

Jordan said he expects the moves to take about three years. A committee made up of hospital officials and advocates for the developmentally disabled will spend the summer developing new admission standards for the hospitals.

Jordan said he expected the committee to be in place by “June or July.”

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be wanting to move people out and then at the same time letting them move in,” Jordan said. “You need to close the front door.”

Today, KNI has about 160 residents; Parsons State Hospital about 190. The two hospital employs about 510 and 460 workers, respectively.

Asked to respond family members’ concerns that many medically fragile residents would not survive in community settings, Jordan noted that community programs already care for residents whose conditions are as fragile as those in the hospitals.

“My concern is not so much whether we can do it – it’s more what can we do to assure the residents’ families that we can,” Jordan said.

The committee chairwoman, Rep. Peggy Mast, R-Emporia, asked if some of the hospital residents were from outside the state.

Jordan said some residents’ parents have died and others have relatives who have retired and left the state. But the residents themselves, he said, are all considered Kansas residents.

“The thing you have to remember is these are not children, they’re adults,” Jordan said. “So, really, their residential status is based on the fact that they’re here and not where their parents or other realtives may be.”

The committee is expected to hear from residents’ family members and guardians Tuesday.